By Vanessa Pappas, General Manager, TikTok US
We understand that there have been ongoing questions about our content moderation and data security policies, and appreciate that greater transparency on our part could help to solve this. At TikTok, we have no higher priority than earning and preserving the trust of our users, partners and regulators, and we want to keep our community updated on the steps we are taking on these challenging but critically important issues.
Over the past year, we have taken a number of concrete actions that we want to reiterate here so our stakeholders have full awareness.
Building out a team of US-based leaders.
Ever since I started in January as General Manager for the US, we have worked hard to build out a senior team of US leaders with wide and relevant industry experience to run TikTok here. Every day, our US team makes decisions that we see as best for the US market, and we are given the independence to do so. This allows us to focus on doing what’s best for our community here in the US.
US-led content moderation.
We understand the importance of localizing the complex and intricate process of content moderation. That's why we have US-based employees experienced in this sector leading the moderation efforts for TikTok US. TikTok uses a combination of machine learning tools and several rounds of human moderation to review content. Our US moderation team, which is led out of California, reviews content for adherence to our US policies, similar to other US companies in our space. In fact, over this year, we've built a robust team with expertise in the area of Trust & Safety based in the US, and we continue to invest heavily in this area.
We are committed to providing a safe and expressive app experience for our community, and we aim to be a leader in this area, which is why we also recently announced plans to form a committee of outside experts to help ensure that TikTok is well prepared to serve our users and community effectively and responsibly.
Localizing our Community Guidelines.
Every market is different, and we realize that the best way to create the most vibrant and creative platform for the US is to improve localization and continue to build on our Community Guidelines, which will continue to evolve over time. As a platform that has an audience that includes high school students, user protection is a priority, which is why our Community Guidelines emphasize keeping TikTok a fun and safe community for our users. We remove content that violates those rules — like pornography, spam or violence — in a manner consistent with our values and industry standards.
Prioritizing data security.
We know that our users want to feel secure and informed when it comes to handling their data. Recognizing the importance of this issue, we want to be as transparent as possible in order to earn the trust and confidence of our US stakeholders in this crucial area. As we have said before, and recently confirmed through an independent security audit, we store all US user data in the United States, with backup redundancy in Singapore. TikTok’s data centers are located entirely outside of China. Further, we have a dedicated technical team focused on adhering to robust cybersecurity policies, and data privacy and security practices. In addition, we periodically conduct internal and external reviews of our security practices in an effort to ensure we are keeping up with current risks.
Engaging with the community.
TikTok team, senior staff and myself understand the importance of building a close and transparent working relationship with regulators and lawmakers. This will be increasingly important during the upcoming US election season. TikTok is a place for users to express their creativity in a lighthearted and fun way. We deeply value our community's diversity and authenticity, factors that help make the app such a unique and refreshing place. When we introduce new features or evaluate our policies, we are guided by this spirit and our mission to inspire creativity and bring joy. This is part of why we banned political advertising earlier this year — to safeguard what is unique about the TikTok user experience.
We are grateful and proud that our young company has quickly earned its reputation with users as a fun, joyful place to create and watch entertaining short videos, and we are working to continue our growth in a way that is transparent and consistent in building confidence and trust with our most important stakeholders, our users. We will continue to update you as our policies on content moderation, data security, and user safety evolve in line with the values of our user base and the expectations of the regulatory community.
We will continue to work with the US government on all of the issues discussed above.